Acts 15: Solving Another Problem -- Who Can Receive the Good News?

by Bob Young
[permission is given to reprint with credit noted]

Today's Bible Reading: Acts 15

Selected Biblical Text
But some men came down from Judea and were teaching the brothers, "Unless you are circumcised according to the custom of Moses, you cannot be saved." And after Paul and Barnabas had no small dissension and debate with them, Paul and Barnabas and some of the others were appointed to go up to Jerusalem to the apostles and the elders about this question. So, being sent on their way by the church, they passed through both Phoenicia and Samaria, describing in detail the conversion of the Gentiles, and brought great joy to all the brothers. When they came to Jerusalem, they were welcomed by the church and the apostles and the elders, and they declared all that God had done with them. But some believers who belonged to the party of the Pharisees rose up and said, "It is necessary to circumcise them and to order them to keep the law of Moses." The apostles and the elders were gathered together to consider this matter....
Then it seemed good to the apostles and the elders, with the whole church, to choose men from among them and send them to Antioch with Paul and Barnabas. They sent Judas called Barsabbas, and Silas, leading men among the brothers, with the following letter: "The brothers, both the apostles and the elders, to the brothers who are of the Gentiles in Antioch and Syria and Cilicia, greetings. Since we have heard that some persons have gone out from us and troubled you with words, unsettling your minds, although we gave them no instructions, it has seemed good to us, having come to one accord, to choose men and send them to you with our beloved Barnabas and Paul, men who have risked their lives for the sake of our Lord Jesus Christ. We have therefore sent Judas and Silas, who themselves will tell you the same things by word of mouth. For it has seemed good to the Holy Spirit and to us to lay on you no greater burden than these requirements: that you abstain from what has been sacrificed to idols, and from blood, and from what has been strangled, and from sexual immorality. If you keep yourselves from these, you will do well. Farewell." So when they were sent off, they went down to Antioch, and having gathered the congregation together, they delivered the letter. And when they had read it, they rejoiced because of its encouragement. (Acts 15:1-6, 22-31 ESV)

Reflecting and Thinking
Acts 15 is great study of problem-solving. The addition of Gentiles to the church generated a doctrinal problem -- whether circumcision was essential to being a Christian. It was not a small issue. Some traveled long distances to debate the issue. Finally, a conference was held in Jerusalem to consider the matter. The problem was resolved, information was sent to the churches, and the result was that the churches were strengthened and encouraged.

How often do our problem-solving efforts result in encouragement and rejoicing? What could we learn from this text concerning how to approach problem-solving? What changes to current practices would you suggest so that the contemporary church could more effectively solve problems and resolve conflict? What problem-solving principles can you identify from this passage?

Heavenly Father, we celebrate the reconciliation you have brought to us in Christ Jesus. We want to live in peace; we want to be peacemakers. Some things seem so important in the emotion of the moment. Help us learn how to model the spirit of Jesus as we deal with conflicts. Through Jesus we offer this prayer, Amen.

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Last updated January 2019